I had a few lilies that I overwatered. I removed the bulbs from the soil and let it dry out in the sun for about a day hoping that can save the bulbs. However, the leaves kept turning yellow and the flower bulbs even dropped off the plant. I have now removed the whole plant from the pot and let them dry out in the sun. I inspected the bulbs and they look healthy and no visible sign of disease. Should I save these bulbs for next year?
If the bulbs look healthy, saving them is certainly worth a try as these bulbs are not inexpensive to replace. I’m not sure from your description if there is live green foliage still growing from the bulbs or if you have cut it all off, but we’ll cover both scenarios below.
If there is still live foliage attached, replanting back into the pot with some new soil would be best. Basic lily care instructions are below:
- Soil should be rich in organic matter, slightly acidic (pH: 6.5-6.9), good drainage. Most nurseries can direct you to the appropriate potting soil for lilies.
- Plant in full sun (6-8 hours daily), ideally morning sun with some shade in the afternoon.
- Bulbs should be planted 5-6 inches deep.
- Container should not be porous or unglazed, needs to be larger than 6 inches in diameter and needs at least one drainage hole in the bottom.
- Container ideally should be located with surrounding plantings that shade the pot & plant roots.
- Feed bulbs once per month with a balanced fertilizer (10-10-10), following the package instructions carefully.
- Watering should be done carefully so as not to overwater, 1 inch per week from either rainfall or watering can, done when soil feels dry to the touch.
- Mulch the top of the soil to lessen evaporation and to keep soil evenly moist.
- In containers, plants may need support of a cage or stake as the blooms become heavy.
- Blooms should be deadheaded when spent.
- Any browning plant leaves should be removed.
If you have cut everything off, then your goal is to save the bulbs safely for next year in the hopes that they may have enough energy stored from this years growth to remain viable. Usually, we would recommend you remove the bulbs, cutting back the foliage after the first frost, as they won’t survive the winter outside, but you may have already done this. Allow the bulbs to dry well, shake off the dirt and store for the winter in paper bags or in a flat, keeping the bulbs apart from each other and making sure there is good air circulation. Place them in a cool place away from light (dark), somewhere that does not freeze in the winter. If the larger bulbs have smaller ones attached, separate the smaller ones off and discard, keeping only large healthy bulbs. Check on the bulbs monthly over the fall and winter and if any look like they are developing rot, then remove those bulbs and discard.
Knowing that you current bulbs have not had a full growing season this year, you may or may not be lucky in getting them to grow and bloom again, but it’s worth a shot. Hope this helps.